Learn how collections provides and alternative view into AEM Assets.

Collections in AEM assets straddle content organization and discovery. They are in effect a lens that is placed over the assets folder hierarchy along specific folders and assets to be cherry-picked and surfaced into a centralized view. As a collections provide powerful flexibility for asset collection and discovery as they can bend the underlying rules of AEM’s inherent tree based structure. There’re three main variants of collections. The first is an AEM user’s personal Lightbox collection. Each AEM user has exactly one lightbox and it’s used to collect assets from anywhere in AEM. This provides a quick and easy way to collect sets of assets needed for ad hoc tasks. To add assets to a lightbox, simply select one or more and drag them towards the top bar and the Lightbox drop zone appears.
Alternatively, the top action bar provides a two collection button that opens an add collection wizard which allows the assets to be added to the Lightbox collection. The Lightbox can be accessed from either the left sidebar under navigation collections or from the assets start screen under collections.
Assets can be removed from the lightbox by selecting and tapping remove or when finished, the entire Lightbox collection can be cleared by selecting all and tapping remove.
The next type of collection is a name collection. These are similar to the Lightbox however, any number of name collections can be made and optionally shared between users. New collections are defined from the collection view by tapping create and providing a name and denoting if it’s public meaning any AEM user can see it. Non-public collections are by default only visible to the user that created it but can be shared to explicit users in groups in AEM as well. Navigating back into files, assets and folders can be selected and dragged into the drop to add drop zone in the top right. From here an add to collection wizard is displayed that allows the user to select the collection to add the selected assets or folders to. The wizard will only show collections the user has access to add assets or folders to. And then simply tap add to add the assets to the collection. More assets can be added in the same way, simply dragging them into the drop zone and adding them to the appropriate collection.
Similarly to the lightbox assets or folders can be selected and added to a collection via the two collection button in the top action bar. This evokes the same add to collection wizard as the drop zone. Note that from this wizard, new collections can be made using the create button. This affords AEM users a flexible and ad hoc experience when collecting assets.
Navigating back to the collection view, we see our action shots collection that has all the assets we collected across three different folders.
A time saving trick is turning the contents of a lightbox collection into a name collection. Sometimes it’s only after you create the ad hoc Lightbox collection do you realize that your colleagues might find this helpful as well. To do this, simply navigate to collections and copy of the Lightbox collection. Give it a meaningful name others will understand and market is public. And now the contents of your Lightbox has been copied over to a new public collection that other AEM users can see.
The last type of collection is a smart collection. Smart collections are effectively saved searches while the Lightbox in name collections are static in that they are made up of explicit lists of assets and folders. Smart collections pull their content based on search criteria and their contents ebbs and flows with the assets in AEM. To create a smart collection, enter AEM search and assets and perform the search with all the desired filter criteria you want to capture in the smart collection. For this smart collection, let’s collect all of the adventure images that have been approved. We can do this by selecting the path and scope it to the adventures folder. Selecting the file type and select the images and finally, selecting status approval and ensuring only approved assets are included.
Verify the results and then tap save smart collection at the bottom and give the collection in name and mark is public if desired.
Give AEM moment to create the smart collection.
Smart collections are available directly from within Omni search in the top smart collection dropdown.
Upon selecting a smart collection here, the search results will populate with the results on the smart collection query. As new approved image assets are added to the adventures folder, they will become part of the smart collection and that’s part of this results set. Navigating back to the collections view, the smart collection is available here as well. Clicking into the smart collection executes the underlying query displaying all assets that meet it’s criteria.
Collections, titles, descriptions and access can be managed via its settings.
Non public or private collections which defaults access only to the creator can be managed at the EAM user or group level as well. Owners have access to the collection settings and can determine to whom and how it is shared. Editors can add and remove assets from the collection and viewers have a read only view of the collection. However, remember they may still be able to modify the assets in the collection based on their permissions applied to the asset in the collection via the folder hierarchy.
Lastly, to remove entire collections, simply go to the questions view, select them and tap delete from the top action bar. -